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Military Empowerment and Civilian Targeting in Civil War

  • Juan F. Vargas

    ()

    (Royal Holloway College, University of London)

Civilians constitute a large share of casualties in civil wars across the world. They are targeted to create fear and punish allegiance with the enemy. This maximizes collaboration with the perpetrator and strengthens the support network necessary to consolidate control over contested regions. I develop a model of the magnitude and structure of civilian killings in civil wars involving two armed groups who fight over territorial control. Armies secure compliance through a combination of carrots and sticks. In turn, civilians differ from each other in their intrinsic preference towards one group. I explore the effect of the empowerment of one of the groups in the civilian death toll. There are two effects that go in opposite directions. While a direct effect makes the powerful group more lethal, there is an indirect effect by which the number of civilians who align with that group increases, leaving less enemy supporters to kill. I study the conditions under which there is one dominant effect and illustrate the predictions using sub-national longitudinal data for Colombia s civil war.

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Paper provided by Households in Conflict Network in its series HiCN Working Papers with number 56.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:56
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hicn.org

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  1. Mario Chacón & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia’s La Violencia," HiCN Working Papers 21, Households in Conflict Network.
  2. Jorge Restrepo & Michael Spagat & Juan Vargas, 2004. "The Dynamics of the Colombian Civil Conflict: A New Data Set," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/10, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Jul 2004.
  3. Azam, Jean-Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2001. "Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  4. Ahmed Saber Mahmud & Juan F. Vargas, 2008. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005029, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  5. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521583299 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521794497 is not listed on IDEAS
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